Occupy Harvard and beyond
from David Ruccio
Issue #2 of The Occupy Harvard Crimson is now out.
The issue includes a variety of short essays about the occupation, including a piece by Wayne M. Langley, of SEIU Local 615, on higher education and another by Richard Wolff, a Harvard alumnus, based on the talk he gave at the occupation on 18 November.
This is from Langley:
Over the last thirty years, the old social contract that emphasized the “public good” has been replaced with a neo-liberal, market-oriented “private-benefit” model of higher learning. The private-benefit model stresses that the individual student, not society, primarily benefits from advanced education — therefore the individual, not the public, should bear the lion’s share of the cost. . .
The time has come to fight for a new social contract between Americans and their institutions of higher education. It is time to win back support for a publicly funded, accessible, and outstanding educational system.
And here’s Wolff:
As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes. For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem. . .
Every enterprise should be democratized. Workers should occupy their enterprise by collectively functioning as its board of directors. That would abolish the capitalist exploitative system (employer versus employee) much as our historical predecessors abolished the parallel exploitative systems of slavery (master versus slave) and feudalism (lord versus serf). In workers’ self-directed enterprises, those who do the work also design and direct it and dispose of its profits: no exploitation of workers by others. Workers participate equally in making all enterprise decisions. The old capitalist elite – the major corporate shareholders and the boards of directors they choose – would no longer decide what, how and where to produce and how to use enterprise profits. Instead, workers – in partnership with residential communities interdependent with their enterprises – would make all those decisions democratically.
The students who are occupying Harvard and hundreds of other colleges and universities around the country are exploring two basic issues: how to restore the idea of the university and how to imagine and create appropriate substitutes for capitalism. Both are key issues within the larger, national and international, Occupy movement.